Chapter Five | Dates 3

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Zoë and Adam spent most of the next few days incident-free. When he was at work, Zoë reacquainted herself with the TV from her childhood.

When the commercials rolled, her brain auto-completed the lyrics as though she'd never been away.

It got right through her.

She doubled her pleasure.

She broke off a piece in her break.

She didn't want to grow up.

Saturday morning was best. The toy commercials, the cartoons, the cereals with the word sugar directly in the names. When she flipped on Jem and the Holograms in the house with a big bowl of Cookie Crisp she'd bought at the corner grocery, she still felt it necessary to keep the volume down lest mom and dad wake up.

Sitting on the sofa didn't feel quite right, so she dropped cross-legged on the floor. Her pajamas were still cozy from sleep; a glass of milk stood beside her on a coaster on the carpet. When the show's flashy theme song played, a jolt of happiness shot through her chest and she laughed aloud to herself.

"Mama, you'd be so pissed if you knew what I was doing."

A knock on the door startled her.

She swallowed her mouthful of sugar and scrambled to get the door. When Adam saw her, he laughed and tried to keep two coffees balanced on a donut box.

"Cartoons?"

Zoë shrugged and took the box from him. "At least I've got more sugar!"

His eyes went to the cereal bowl she'd left on the floor. "Just trying to keep you healthy."

She put the box of donuts on the dining room table, took a coffee, then switched off the TV.

"You can leave it on," Adam said.

Zoë shook her head. "I've seen this one. I'm surprised you're off on a Saturday. Big plans?"

"It might sound cheesy, but there's a festival downtown and it could be a lot of fun. Rides, crappy food. What do you say?"

"Sounds great."

The fair was more a pop-up carnival occupying a park downtown

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The fair was more a pop-up carnival occupying a park downtown. Twinkling rides swung screaming passengers through the air while wooden huts sold unhealthy food and drinks and lured passers-by into playing rigged throwing games. Somewhere down the road, a live amateur band played Brown Eyed Girl. The place could have been from any time in Zoë's life.

Adam took her hand and the warmth spread to her face.

"I loved places like this," Zoë said. "But any time my mom took me and my sister out, we could ride one ride because you had to buy a ticket for each one, and we had to bring food from home."

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